Today I’m delighted to welcome Simon Farrant to the blog. Please would you introduce yourself Simon, and then we’ll find out more about your most recent book, Death Dolls?
Hello Mark! I’m Simon, and I live in Corby. It’s a town an hour or so north of London by train and one of the fastest growing towns in the country. A bit of trivia, it’s the only town in the country with extensive ancient woodlands in the town.
I’ve been writing for just over a year. A friend of mine asked for short stories to submit to an anthology. That was it – I was hooked! At home I live with my wife, Louise, our three children, our Bengal cat, Missy and Skeddie the pink tongued skink.
So far I have co-authored a anthology of short horror stories, with Mark Nye, and three hard-boiled (gory!) crime stories. There’s a fourth one called Driven to Murder on the horizon.
Next year, I have a trilogy coming out in a much different genre; the limbo island books are low fantasy mixed with a bit of mystery. No dragons, sorry,
In the past I’ve gained a degree, driven 18 wheel trucks and been a special constable. In 2011 I became ill with the swine flu and this developed into fibromyalgia, and I also suffer with psoriatic arthritis. It eventually meant losing the jobs, and I now use a mobility scooter to help with getting around. Writing has given me a great new outlook on life, and I love it.
Will your skin become a handbag after you die?
Benjamin sees himself as a great guy who employs various misfits at his remote family farm, but when his mother dies during a house fire, grief takes its toll on his mind. Strapped for cash, Benjamin starts a new, gruesomely profitable leather business with Tilly, an expert craft worker. The only hitch – where will they get the bodies from? Can they find people willing to sell their dead relatives’ skin or will they need to take matters into their own hands?
If you like fantastic, gritty, dark crime that’s not for the faint of heart then you will love Death Dolls. It is the third book in the hard boiled crime series, Newdon Killers, by Simon Farrant.
‘Absolutely fabulous story, Simon Farrant is an excellent author who keeps you pinned to the edge of your seat.’ – 5* Amazon Review.
Pick up Death Dolls to discover this exciting new book today!
You can find Death Dolls on Amazon by clicking on the book cover.
Did something you heard/saw inspire the plot for the book, or did the idea appear in your imagination out of the blue?
Last year I had a tattoo done, and I started to outline a story called Dr Tattoo. I wasn’t sure how it was going to pan out, but it had the scene of Benjamin McGuinness building up his tattoo business in the countryside. I for some reason wondered if it was possible to make leather goods from human skin, and looked it up on the internet. To my surprise, it is possible and you can buy it. So, this was in the back of my mind, and the story came together. After introducing the next tattooist, the idea of a community of misfits seemed like a great plot.
The story started life as a short story in the book I mentioned earlier, the anthology, called Anathema. I was very pleased with the short story but knew that there was a much longer book bursting to be born. The ending is a little different too, which is fun as I wanted people who may have read the short to be surprised by the change.
Why did you decide to set the series in the same town, and do any characters feature in more than one book?
It feels right to have a fictional town, as it gives me a lot of scope to drop ‘Easter Eggs’ in stories that people who have read different books would notice. For example, in my upcoming book Driven to Murder, one character buys a pregnancy kit from a shop that features in the first book of the trilogy. Although they are quite different genres, it helps me to build a more multi dimensional world.
Sgt Laura Love features in Famously Ordinary, Death Dolls and much more so in Driven to Murder. She become DS Love in that book, and I plan to write some more mainstream crime books next year with Laura as the main police officer. The readers will have seen her try to tackle James Dean in Famously Ordinary, and then Benjamin McGuinness and his crew in Death Dolls and on to the murders in DtM, so I feel that readers will be rooting for her.
In Driven to Murder, a couple of high profile characters come back to the pages. I can’t reveal who yet, but I think that readers who have been fans of Newdon Killers will be happy….
Which character was the most fun to write – good or bad, and why?
This is a joint one, between the brother and sister Benjamin and Lisa McGuinness. Seeing the moral dilemma that Lisa feels along with her boss at the undertakers was interesting to write. Without giving away too much, it seems like a perfect money making opportunity for them. Benjamin was really fun to write, the cringe was strong writing the murder scene when Benjamin had to dispose of one of his original employees who was intent on blowing the whistle to the authorities.
I very much enjoyed writing the comic scenes of him flying a small aircraft with customers to dispose of their loved one’s ashes over the sea. I imagine that some readers will laugh at this, and it might be a bit more emotional to other readers.
In a few words could you tell us why we would enjoy reading Death Dolls?
Yes! Death Dolls is a short novel, so a fairly easy book to read in one great reading sitting if you have the time to do so. It’s been called unique, as in a bit of horror a bit of crime and a bit of suspense. One reviewer went so far as to call it ‘Brilliant’, although I am far too modest to say that myself! The characters are mis-fits, and the setting is quite unusual too.
Do you have a favourite part of the story? Would you like to share an extract?That’s a tough question, Mark!
I really like how Benjamin wants to provide a secure home for his employees; I wouldn’t be surprised if some readers could see themselves living there too.
The extract that I have chosen is from Chapter Five. I have picked this as it is a pivotal moment in the book. Earlier in the story, Tilly asked if she could fulfil an ambition of running a leather works business. Benjamin said yes, on the condition that she and her two sisters first made a success of an organic piggery that he had established…
Nine months to the day after the piggery came under the stewardship of the triplets, Skunkworks Leather opened for business.
Tilly stood with great pride when Benjamin gathered the workers in the yard and placed the ribbon that he had affixed across the door to celebrate his new business opening between the blades of a pair of scissors. He said, ‘Thank you all for coming.’ That generated some laughter from the crowd, all of who lived in the accommodation on site, so it wasn’t hard for them to be there.
He grinned and continued, ‘I am honoured Zack brought you women into my life. The business couldn’t have prospered without you. I declare the Skunkworks… open!’
A round of applause rippled around the workers, and a real ambiance of celebration settled over the group. Tilly hugged Benjamin tightly and whispered into his ear, ‘Thanks a million, you won’t regret this. I promise.’
‘You’re welcome, you three have been a total pleasure to have on board,’ said Benjamin.
Tilly tucked a strand of hair behind her ear and looked up at Benjamin, ‘You know, it has been so hard in the past. No-one has wanted to give all three of us a chance together in a job, but we can’t cope with being apart. This is so great, and I have more plans for the business.’
‘Oh, what’s that?’ Benjamin said, an eyebrow lifted in surprise.
Tilly looked over his shoulder into the distance and said, ‘Oh never mind for now, we’ll talk about it another time. Let’s not run before we can walk.’
Benjamin shrugged, ‘No worries, you can talk to me at any time you know.’
Tilly hugged him again and kissed him on the cheek, ‘You’re the best boss ever. Benjamin McGuiness.’
He blushed a deep shade of red, which was something that he never normally did. Zack and the other two sisters smirked.
Tilly laughed the awful laugh that the trio seemed to enjoy as if they knew they sounded like a coven of witches. Zack lit up a cigarette and puffed out a huge plume of smoke into the sky. Tilly pointed at him, ‘Don’t even think of smoking anywhere near this place Zack. There’s loads of chemicals and I don’t wish to risk a fire, mate! Anyway, see you lot in a bit, I have work to do.’ She went into her new workshops and got on with preparing ready for hides to arrive. Zack and Benjamin returned to the tattoo studio, and the two remaining women made their way back to the Piggery.
Thank you Mark for inviting me on to your blog, I very much appreciate the opportunity!
Best wishes and happy reading.
Thank you for your continued support,